ONE side table

My name is Brian Hsieh. I am an Industrial Design student in my 4th year at New Jersey Institute of Technology. During my high school years, I had taken a Computer Assisted Design and Animation course. My preference at the time was architecture, but after modeling a few products I became more interested in Industrial Design. I liked the idea of something I had thought of and created going into production. Industrial Design is a very worldly major and encompasses many thoughts and practices, which is why I enjoy it so much.

It has been a very productive collaboration with Brian, not only by creating a second article about his work, but also by translating into reality his unique design. You always get, as a human being, a feeling of rewarding whenever you successfully end a project; this sort feeling multiplies enormously when you know you are helping the future: young people are the future and we must do our best to supporting their adventures.




Most of the times an assignment is mandatory: for school, for your job or for a contest. When you are in love with what you do, assignments come out of the blue…out of a strong desire to create. With ONE side table, Brian confessed that it was mostly a side project:  to design a piece of furniture with an exterior modern style while housing a classical style within the negative space.


Rendering by Brian Hsieh


An added piece was also created: a stool, allowing for something to fit inside the negative space of the night stand. A cylindrical shape, molded from plastic with an upholstered seat, would fit snug in the rectangular piece. I chose a cylindrical stool to continue the theme of clashing styles within the piece. The stool would match the inner color of the night stand.



Inspiration is the least reliable companion: you cannot count on it for sure and you never know when it will show up. But stories about what/when/who inspired you are a one of kind each time. For Brian, his ONE side table emerged from research:

I researched how negative space could be used effectively. I originally wanted the piece to resemble the Rubin’s vase, but after housing it within a rectangle, the idea morphed into a classical and modern mesh. The inner shape derives from the common number 1 which is scene on one side and mirrored to the other to create symmetry. It also takes references from Doric columns.

The idea for the name was easy considering it was the backing for my whole piece’s design. The piece’s name is: ONE.


Brian is a great fabricator (as well proved by his previous concept), but this time he decided to seek professional help. The encounter was quite an odd coincidence: during a guest lecture at NJIT, I saw his renderings and asked more information about the object displayed. I was introduced to him as a wood fabricator and then he realized that I contact him earlier for a  first article on the blog. Now, he was a little bit uncomfortable chatting with me, since he postponed his answer to the article inquire, due to a tight school schedule. When you`re busy…you`re busy, so I totally understood the situation; I was more astonished about this sequence of events totally unplanned and yet perfectly coordinated!


We took it from there and he hired us to create a real version of his renderings: engineered wood core, veneer top and a combined finish (white lacquer on the inside of the table and satin clear lacquer on the outside). He handled me a very well drafted technical drawing, and spare us some valuable time; this is something that we always dream when working with designers on their custom made pieces, but reality exhibits a very low rate of this type of collaborations; no complains what so ever since we are more than prepared to handle technical tasks!

As good fabricators, we followed exactly the technical description, starting from material specification and ending with final finish. No shortcuts, no design alterations. The entire core of the table was made from engineered wood, carefully selected so its core does not pose any problems (splitting plies, gaps between plies or warped plies). Each sub-piece was made individually and then all of them merged into one piece.

Work in progress for One Side Table

Work in progress at Open Square Woodworking

One might ask a simple question: why not solid wood? When carefully selecting materials for a future project, we always weight the pros and cons of each material. In this case, for a side table we had to use a light material, which had an exterior suitable for staining and which can be shaped accordingly to the design. For instance, solid wood is heavier than engineered wood; if it`s not properly dried, in time, size variations might occur. And not at least, why using solid wood and then painting it white? The beauty of the wood is in its natural color and grain! Then there is always the future: when prototyping, the result should serve for next phases… like mass production; and Brian was fully aware of all conditions before handling us the material specifications.

Work in progress for One Side Table

Work in progress at Open Square Woodworking: veneer covering

Performing a veneer covering is always a sensitive task; no matter how much experience you have sometimes things still go wrong. Among the most common issues I will have to mention: air bubbles, veneer “waves” or improper adhesive. With a little bit of extra care, all of them can be avoided and the result is astonishing: a seamless and flawless furniture piece! The right pressure is the key factor, while using this technique, along with speed and precision. For the one detail, a single piece of veneer covered the entire surface (cut to fit the shape). The extra material was cut off with a hand router.

Work in progress for One Side Table

Work in progress atOpen Square Woodworking: finish phase

For the finishing phase, usually color dictates the product. The exterior of the table was stained using a Polyurethane stain (oil stain), by applying 3 coats; for a shinier appearance 2 more coats of clear satin lacquer was added. The interior was primed white, and then painted with white satin lacquer. For a proper result always read the instruction of the products you are about to use and make a sample first; some woods might behave differently and different steps might be needed. Also make sure to always leave the piece to dry completely. As an advice for users: the complete cure time for a furniture piece can extend up to several weeks, so pay attention to what advises your fabricator offers you!


After intensive days of work, the final result was produced: the reality of a unique design. In the gallery below, feel free to entertain yourself with Brian Hsieh`s ONE side table:

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Like any furniture design out there, Brian Hsieh`s table is for sale. For inquiries feel free to contact us via email and we will gladly connect you with Brian. Your comments and suggestions are highly appreciated so make sure to leave them!

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1 Comment

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